“I’ve played and coached all over the region, but this club has always felt like home.”
Wilson is rekindling his association with both incarnations of the club that look set to stretch across into a fourth decade.
He played over 1000 matches in the semi-professional game. In his pomp he was wearing an Emley shirt in a stint that included that famous visit to West Ham United in the FA Cup third round.
No surprise then that Wilson’s first target is a return to that historic competition. “I’m looking to qualify for the FA Cup. Obviously there’s the nostalgia. Very few teams get to get that experience that myself and Nico [Steve Nicholson, newly appointed as assistant manager] did. So it raises the profile of the club and also it brings in important revenue.”
Steve Nicholson describes his former team mate as a “hot head on the pitch” and Wilson knows his reputation as a player proceeds him into management, “In my younger days I got up to a lot of antics both on and off the field. Over enthusiasm, I’d like to say. But I channelled all my aggression into winning.”
Assistant Nicholson thinks Wilson has matured and is ready for this role, “He’s settled himself down a little bit. He’s very, very serious about this, which some people will probably turn their nose up to. I think he might surprise you.”
As well as that successful team of the nineties, Wilson returned to the village side for a spell five years ago, perhaps with one eye on the top job, “Managing Emley is something I’ve talked about with friends in football for well over 10 years and I’m incredibly happy it has now come about. I’ve played and coached all over the region, but this club has always felt like home.”
The more recent leg of his footballing journey around the region included managing, assisting and coaching at Evo-stik and NCEL level. “I’ve had experience as an Assistant Manager both with Stocksbridge and Ossett Town, and then I finally got a manager’s job [at Retford United] – which I really didn’t want. It was a bit too early for me but I got pressurised into it.”
Most of the pressure at Retford turned out to be off-the-pitch, Wilson describes a club with less than a handful of volunteers, “I was doing a lot of the behind the scenes, as in the team sheet, the warm up, sometimes marking the pitch, filling the bar up. I think there’s probably over 20 volunteers at Emley - a lot that I know from my playing days. The stability behind the scenes takes a lot of pressure off the manager. So this will be a totally different situation.”
A different situation is also a less lonely dugout with Wilson in a joint manager role with Richard Tracey and assisted by Nicholson. Two men with a strong record of managing teams higher up the pyramid. “We got together to talk about it and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to work together. We’ve all either directly or indirectly been connected in football for decades. You’ve got a defender in Nico who can work on any problems at the back. Myself, a midfielder. Then you’ve got Richard who was a striker. I think it will be a good blend.”
The appointments will undoubtedly attract attention and while Wilson is keen to manage expectations – “we’re not going to be bombastic and say ‘we’re going to win this and we’re going to do this and we’re going to get this player and get that player.” – he is also determined to make a success of the opportunity, “It will not come round again, so I’m going to grasp it with both hands.”
Updated 16:53 - 4 May 2019 by Andrew Painten